Gougères

 

If there was ever a good reason for me to make three dozen not-so-little gougères for only two people, it’s this:  I wanted to conquer a 15-year old fear.

When I first saw a friend make cheese puffs years ago, I was told that I had to make sure to stir the water/butter/flour mixture constantly (and very carefully) until the mixture formed into a ball.  If I didn’t do it right –I was told–the whole exercise would be unsuccessful.  Since I didn’t know how to cook then, that fear always stayed with me.  Silly, I know, but I didn’t realize how easy these cheesy nuggets were to make until tonight.  I hope this wasn’t just beginner’s luck.  I’d like to believe that I chose the right recipe to follow and that I’ll be able to make an equally light, cheesy, golden puff next time.

French in origin, a gougère is a light, hollow pastry that is most commonly flavored with gruyère, a mildly sharp, nutty cheese.  It works well as an appetizer because gougères are light, airy and can easily be paired with wine, cheese, or even charcuterie.  I actually didn’t have any gruyère tonight but I did have a nice wedge of manchego and a small block of Irish cheddar.  I used a combination of the two cheeses with good results.

Gougères

Adapted from The French Laundry Cookbook

  • 1 cup water
  • 7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 4 – 5 large eggs (I only needed 4)
  • 1 1/4 cups grated gruyère (5 ounces) (I used a combo of manchego and Irish Cheddar)
  • Freshly ground white pepper (I didn’t have any so I omitted)

Preheat the oven to 450ºF.  Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, butter, salt and sugar and bring to a boil.  Add all the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium, and stir with a wooden spoon for two minutes, or until the mixture forms a ball and the excess moisture has evaporated (if the ball forms more quickly, continue to cook and stir for a full 2 minutes).

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle and beat for about 3o seconds at medium speed to cool slightly.  Add 4 eggs and continue to mix until completely combined and the batter has a smooth , silky texture.  Stop the machine and lift up the beater to check the consistency of the batter.  The batter in the mixing bowl should form a peak with a tip that falls over.  If it is too stiff, beat in the white of the remaining egg.  Check again, and if necessary, add the yolk.  Finally, mix in 3/4 cup of the gruyere and adjust the seasoning with salt and white pepper.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch pastry tip with the gougère batter.  Pipe the batter into 1-tablespoon mounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between the gougères as the mixture will spread during baking (I couldn’t be bothered with this so I used melon-baller sized ice cream scoop instead).  Sprinkle the top of each gougère with about 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining grated cheese and bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until they puff and hold their shape.  Reduce the heat to 350ºF and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes (using convection again, mine finished in about 15-18 minutes).  When the gougères are done, they should be a light golden brown color.  When you break one open, it should be hollow; the inside should be cooked but still slightly moist.  Remove the pans from the oven and serve while hot.

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Comments

  1. I made gougeres for the first time after I purchased Clotilde’s Chocolate and Zucchini cookbook–they’re phenomenal, and always so impressive. The perfect thing to kick off a dinner party with a handful of friends.

    • I have that book, too, Kasey. As usual, I haven’t tried anything from it yet, but I have made a couple of Clotilde’s desserts (from her blog) and they’ve been a hit. Thanks so much for dropping by!

      Jean

  2. Gorgeous gougeres! I love these, too, and I vividly remember the first time I made them. I love the idea of trying them with manchego cheese.

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